The England Trees Action Plan 2021-2024
The UK Government plan
Trees are a long-term endeavour; the treescapes we create in the coming years will outlive us, and today’s decisions will profoundly impact the country our children inhabit. This action plan will help shape the kind of country future generations will want to live in, alive with the formidable power of healthy trees.
England will have at least 12% woodland cover by mid-century, contributing to net zero greenhouse gas emissions. Its conifer and broadleaf woodlands will be managed for biodiversity and other environmental benefits, along with providing sustainable sources of hardwood and softwood timber and woody products, which can be effective carbon stores and are already seeing increased demand for as we transition to a green economy.
The value of nature will be better understood, creating a new economy of woodland establishment and management, with more private investment in trees. Because of our better understanding of natural capital and greater use of payments for public goods – and because woodlands managed for timber will deliver greater environmental and social benefits – there will be less of a distinction between ‘commercial’ woodland and ‘amenity’ woodlands in the future than there is today.
Trees will play an important role in helping us adapt to a warmer world: near rivers to help manage water quality and flood risk, and in our towns to provide shade. More tree establishment and better management of existing woodlands will restore degraded landscapes, create new habitats, provide more and better quality timber and wood products, and enable more people to have access to the benefits of trees and woodlands. Woodlands will be better connected with each other, as well as with other priority habitats.
Woodland management practices will have evolved to respond to the climate emergency, helping our trees and woodlands adapt. Well-designed and diverse woodlands will be more resilient to pests and diseases and climate change, as well as natural hazards such as wildfire and storms. Ecologically important woodlands will be better protected. More trees will be sourced from UK nurseries, and all trees will be introduced in a way which is consistent with maintaining very high standards of biosecurity and biodiversity.
Our ancient woodlands and veteran trees will also be better protected and more resilient, recognising their cultural and ecological value accumulated over hundreds of years. We will have more information on where these sites are and will have identified other significant well-established sites and afforded them unique protections.
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